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The Making of Lawyers' Careers: Inequality and Opportunity in the American Legal Profession (Chicago Series in Law and Society)

The Making of Lawyers' Careers: Inequality and Opportunity in the American Legal Profession (Chicago Series in Law and Society)

Current price: $35.00
Publication Date: October 3rd, 2023
University of Chicago Press
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An unprecedented account of social stratification within the US legal profession.

How do race, class, gender, and law school status condition the career trajectories of lawyers? And how do professionals then navigate these parameters?

The Making of Lawyers’ Careers provides an unprecedented account of the last two decades of the legal profession in the US, offering a data-backed look at the structure of the profession and the inequalities that early-career lawyers face across race, gender, and class distinctions. Starting in 2000, the authors collected over 10,000 survey responses from more than 5,000 lawyers, following these lawyers through the first twenty years of their careers. They also interviewed more than two hundred lawyers and drew insights from their individual stories, contextualizing data with theory and close attention to the features of a market-driven legal profession.

Their findings show that lawyers’ careers both reflect and reproduce inequalities within society writ large. They also reveal how individuals exercise agency despite these constraints.

About the Author

Robert L. Nelson is the MacCrate Research Professor at the American Bar Foundation and professor of sociology and law at Northwestern University.

Ronit Dinovitzer is professor of sociology at the University of Toronto.

Bryant G. Garth is Distinguished Professor of Law Emeritus at the University of California, Irvine.

Joyce S. Sterling is professor of law emeritus at the University of Denver College of Law.

David B. Wilkins is the Lester Kissel Professor, Vice Dean for Global Initiatives on the Legal Profession, and Faculty Director of the Center on the Legal Profession, Harvard Law School.

Meghan Dawe is a resident research fellow at the Center on the Legal Profession at Harvard Law School.

Ethan Michelson is professor of sociology and law at Indiana University.

Praise for The Making of Lawyers' Careers: Inequality and Opportunity in the American Legal Profession (Chicago Series in Law and Society)

"[The Making of Lawyers' Careers] disputes law firms' explanation for why women and minorities disproportionately leave law firms before partnership consideration. . . . [their] data provides important insight into why current efforts to improve diversity in the legal profession are plateauing."
— Trial Magazine

"The Making of Lawyers’ Careers is essential reading for lawyers, law students, and anyone interested in the practice of law, lawyers’ careers, and the impact of law and lawyers on American culture and politics. Every chapter is a gem . . . In recent years, some law schools have supplemented the required legal ethics or law governing lawyers class with various offerings about the legal profession, law practice, and lawyers’ careers. The Making of Lawyers’ Careers should be a required reading in these types of classes. Indeed, it ought to become a cornerstone of every lawyer’s library."
— Jotwell

"This in-depth examination of diverse attorneys’ career journeys presents a remarkably nuanced analysis of data, individual narratives, and the patterns that emerge between them. The result is a textured map that allows leaders to holistically identify—and address—the mile markers and roadblocks that propel or impede a diverse lawyer’s career."
— Robert Grey | president, Leadership Council on Legal Diversity

“This massive study of lawyers’ careers—the most ambitious and comprehensive ever undertaken—is marvelously revealing, not only of the structure of the profession but of the felt experience of being a lawyer in 21st century America.”
— Robert W. Gordon | Stanford University